If I’ve learned one thing following the Colts over the past seven seasons, it’s that you don’t overreact to how they look in the preseason. They’re a well-oiled machine and will always bring it when the games matter. So pay no attention if the defense is porous, the offensive line weak, the running game non-existent. Thus my confidence in picking them to win the AFC this year.

I may have to rethink that.

That was a brutal showing Sunday in Houston. Not even my patented “take a nap when the Colts fall behind, wake up and they’re ahead” trick worked. I listened to the first quarter, then napped soundly through most of the rest of the game. From the highlights I saw and the articles I read after, I didn’t miss much.

Let’s not forget they gave up 8000 yards to Jacksonville late in the 2006 season and won the Super Bowl a month later. So one bad game doesn’t necessarily doom them.

But the big concern is the offensive line. If they can’t keep Peyton from getting hit, the Colts are not going to win. That’s the most abuse I’ve seen him take in years. In the past they’ve sacrificed run blocking to improve their pass protection when the o-line has struggled. It may take a lot more than that to get the protection where it needs to be for the offense to work.

It was just one game, though. It’s a little early to declare the Colts as we know them are dead. Still, I might be leaning towards the Patriots as AFC champs.

At least Bob Sanders got injured on the first defensive series, so we got that out of the way early.

I watched the first half of the Chiefs-Chargers game Monday. That looked pretty intense. It’s nice the rednecks at Camarohead had something to cheer about.

Perhaps the hottest NFL topic these days is the length of the season. It is clear that changing the season’s format will be a key part of the next labor agreement. I tend to agree with those who think it is a dumb idea, more because of competitive reasons than injuries. There are already some shitty games in December when teams out of the playoffs matchup. Two more weeks of games will extend that misery.

The preseason should also be addressed in this process. Here’s my proposal: three game preseason, with the first game reserved for rookies and guys deep on the depth chart. Don’t even bother running Peyton and Drew and Tony out there for a courtesy possession to justify ticket prices. Also, these games will be played in non-NFL cities for reduced ticket costs. Draft Tim Tebow? Schedule your game in Gainesville or somewhere else in northern Florida. That’ll fill 60,000 seats.

In game two, go back to NFL stadiums, limit starters to one quarter of action and cut ticket prices by 50%. Then use the final week as a full preparation game, playing starters and final cut candidates as long as each team feels necessary.

This gives every team a chance to evaluate the depth of its roster in game situations and offers the top of the rotation enough prep work to be ready for week one. It also clears a week for either extending the regular season, adding another bye week, or adding a round to the playoffs.

Easy. Do it.